Another Week Beyond – 2350

We are partnering Singapore Gymnastics for a Cartwheel-a-thon on 13 January 2024 and on Wednesday, they held a gymnastics class for our children. When the session was over and the kids were having their refreshments, a volunteer asked me what I do. It was a good question for a meaningful conversation and after spontaneously replying that I oversee the day-to-day running of the organisation which includes budgets and such, I became a little more reflective. I told her that nurturing a community workplace where collegaues are safe, inspired, and informed is a task that I prioritise. This is a workplace where people have purpose, competence, success, and are always learning and growing.

So, upholding an organizational structure that enables autonomy and self-managed teams is an ongoing effort because having control over one’s work sustains motivation, job performance, and satisfaction. To do this, the leadership needed is not the management paradigm of efficiency maximization through tight supervision and control. Rather it is one that is rooted in principles such as nonviolence, care, mutual respect, trust, and partnership where narratives grounded in empathy and care emerge.

Early this year, I was introduced to The Four Pivots: Reimagining Justice, Reimagining Ourselves by Shawn A. Ginwright (North Atlantic Books, 2022) which advocates for social change through deep collective healing rather than problem analysis, organizing or scaling. Professor Ginwright contends that “Trust, vision, wholeness, humane relationships, and hope are the tools required for deep change in our work.”

He calls for healing-centred leadership that requires empathy over blame, compassion over complacency, and curiosity over criticism. This call resonates with a community workplace and I would like to share briefly the 4 pivots that leaders must make for healing.

Firstly, pivot to the awareness that we are cause to a situation. Instead of viewing a situation through a lens of analysis, see the situation as a mirror of ourselves and explore how we may contribute to the change we want to see. Then, it is to move from transactional to transformative relationships. We need to stop teaching but to learn vulnerability, empathy, and listening if we are to form deep connections with others.

The third pivot concerns vision and an ability to see possibilities rather than problems. Problem solving keeps us focused on the deficiencies, the gaps and basically what is not working. Perhaps, it was never meant to work anyway, and the people concerned have a better chance of success doing something else. 

Finally, it is showing up each day in a calmer way and pivoting from hustle to flow. We probably would not want to admit it, but we are addicted to our hectic life even if we complain about it. Being busy assures us that we are important, and we matter but this stops us from taking time to reflect about what really is important, take stock, to connect with others and to heal.

These 4 pivots suggest to me that to heal we need space to reflect, to be gentle with ourselves, to care for others and to imagine possibilities that give us life, and these we cannot do if we are busy, mentally occupied, tired, or worn out. Hence to lead, we need to rest, and rest is leadership.

This is our last issue for the year as we will be taking the next 2 weeks to heal and to rest so that we may be in a better place to lead with care, empathy, and compassion in the new year. We will be back in 2024 and we wish you the rest you need to deal with what’s important for you in the New Year.

For peace and community,

Gerard

PAST AWB POSTS

Another Week Beyond 2428 – The Making of a Youth Leader

By: Nina, Community Relations I met Atiqah ten years ago when I was a Community Worker. It was at a photography workshop we had organized for youths. She was a shy, soft-spoken 16-year-old. Her family had only recently moved in, so she didn’t know any other youths in the neighborhood yet. Throughout the few sessions we held, she mostly kept to herself, except when she offered to help me with minor tasks. Despite her discomfort being around others, she always showed up when invited to our programmes. I always admired Atiqah’s quiet determination and was pleased to see her slowly

Read More »

Another Week Beyond – 2427

No Wealth, No Health? Written by: Pei Ling, Community Relations How often do you find yourself in this situation? You’re unwell or in pain, and it’s been going on for while. But you choose not to see a medical practitioner because you feel you cannot afford it. This is a common scenario amongst Singapore’s financially-challenged – families living in rental public housing. And this is what happened to Ismail. When I visited Ismail on a routine follow-up, he was limping and clearly in pain. He told me he had a slipped disc. I asked about the medical treatment he was

Read More »

Another Week Beyond 2426 – Grizzly to Teddy

by Wilson, Community Worker Grizzly to Teddy During one of our recent learning programmes, one of the kids who attended was an often moody, sometimes truculent 8-year-old.  Let’s call him “Teddy.” Our expectations of Teddy were, from experience, tempered. How well he participated in our activities and interacted with others depended on his disposition from week to week. At this particular session, Teddy was what we had come to describe as “his usual self” – shouting vulgarities and being disruptive. He risked injury by playing with a sliding door, even after being asked by a volunteer to stop. In fact,

Read More »

Another Week Beyond 2425 – Do you see me? Do you hear me?

by Nina, Community Relations Do you see me? Do you hear me? Last Saturday, we held a Learning Journey for members of the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO). This is an immersive journey we offer to interested parties who are keen to understand how   communities in public rental housing live, work and play. Our 19 YPO guests were led on a Community Walkabout by 11 Community Guides – each a resident of Lengkok Bahru of varying ages. Their task was to lead our visitors through shared spaces in the neighborhood, while revealing the purpose and character of each area visited. After

Read More »

Community, a place to care and grow (Another Week Beyond – 2424)

By Grace Yew, Community Worker “Pergi, jom” (Let’s go!). We go back to office with you to help you carry all these. You one person, how to carry all alone?” Fauziah insisted as she walked to the side of the lorry, ready to jump onto the passenger’s seat. Her husband who had helped her to hoist two huge tables and fifteen stools onto the lorry followed.  I laughed in disbelief.   It was 6 pm and Fauziah, had been out since ten in the morning, supporting 15 children to set up a community gathering below their flats that boasted carnival-style games

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Another Week Beyond – 2423

“Oh no, more bee hoon,” a mother uttered half embarrassed. “We need to coordinate better the next time,” she added. Our colleague who was present at this children’s birthday party organized by neighbours quickly responded, “Hey, we are having a been hoon feast prepared in 3 different ways and it’s great to have 3 flavours!” The generosity, hospitality and ownership displayed by the organizers were the indicators of success that we sought, and these were already in abundance. For example, a young man appeared in his military uniform to check that the cake his mother had baked on his behalf

Read More »

Reconnecting with Gratitude 

2 weeks ago, our senior advisor Gerard received an email titled “Reconnecting with Gratitude” from someone who volunteered with us 20 years ago.  She told Gerard that she got his email from a friend of a friend and wanted to thank him in person for what he had said to her then. “I recall what you said to me that has impacted my life to this day,” was how she had put it.  She wrote that she was helping with a juggling programme where she accompanied the children to performances and as she was driving them back to the Centre

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Another Week Beyond – 2421

“Don’t bring your hooligan attitudes from your neighbourhood into ours!” A mother screamed at a teenager as he continued taunting her from a distance. Just a few minutes ago, the teenager and his friends were enjoying a game of street soccer against opponents below 12 years old.  His friends and he were visibly bigger and those watching were rooting for the “home team” of younger boys.   When spectators accused one of the older boys of unsporting rough play, play stopped, and angry words were exchanged all around. Recognising that they were not welcome, the older boys left the court grudgingly,

Read More »

PAST AWB POSTS

Another Week Beyond 2428 – The Making of a Youth Leader

By: Nina, Community Relations I met Atiqah ten years ago when I was a Community Worker. It was at a photography workshop we had organized for youths. She was a shy, soft-spoken 16-year-old. Her family had only recently moved in, so she didn’t know any other youths in the neighborhood yet. Throughout the few sessions we held, she mostly kept to herself, except when she offered to help me with minor tasks. Despite her discomfort being around others, she always showed up when invited to our programmes. I always admired Atiqah’s quiet determination and was pleased to see her slowly

Read more >

Another Week Beyond – 2427

No Wealth, No Health? Written by: Pei Ling, Community Relations How often do you find yourself in this situation? You’re unwell or in pain, and it’s been going on for while. But you choose not to see a medical practitioner because you feel you cannot afford it. This is a common scenario amongst Singapore’s financially-challenged – families living in rental public housing. And this is what happened to Ismail. When I visited Ismail on a routine follow-up, he was limping and clearly in pain. He told me he had a slipped disc. I asked about the medical treatment he was

Read more >

Another Week Beyond 2426 – Grizzly to Teddy

by Wilson, Community Worker Grizzly to Teddy During one of our recent learning programmes, one of the kids who attended was an often moody, sometimes truculent 8-year-old.  Let’s call him “Teddy.” Our expectations of Teddy were, from experience, tempered. How well he participated in our activities and interacted with others depended on his disposition from week to week. At this particular session, Teddy was what we had come to describe as “his usual self” – shouting vulgarities and being disruptive. He risked injury by playing with a sliding door, even after being asked by a volunteer to stop. In fact,

Read more >